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Saakashvili rejects on-line interrogation offer

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, March 31
Former President Mikheil Saakashvili is ready to answer questions asked by the Prosecutor’s Office. However, the former president has raised his demands.

Saakashvili was summoned for interrogation at the Prosecutor’s Office on March 27 regarding 10 different cases. But, he ignored the prosecutor’s order to come to Georgia, stressing that the current government is still ruled by the former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is fulfilling Russian demands. After the rejection of the request, the Prosecutor’s Office made a special statement, saying that having taken into account the high importance of the cases under investigation, the interest of the international community in current democratic developments in Georgia, the political status of Mikheil Saakashvili as the former president, as well as the utmost importance of his testimony for the successful completion of the investigation, the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia “offers Mikheil Saakashvili to be interrogated via video conference (via Skype), as he is the most informed witness. In this case, his arrival in Georgia appears unnecessary.”

Saakashvili is ready to testify as a witness via video link before the court and not before prosecutors alone if any of the cases go to trial. A statement concerning the issue was voiced by the United National Movement member Gigi Ugulava on March 28.

Ugulava stresses that such questioning before the court would “decrease risks” coming from the authorities, which, according to him, “want to destroy” the UNM and Saakashvili.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili is calling on Saakashvili to abide by the country’s rule of law and respond to his summons.

“All that was happening over the last nine years is the responsibility of the former president,” Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili stated. He stressed that by rejecting the interrogation notice and the offer for a video interrogation reflected on Saakashvili’s personality.

“He is simply evading the questions of the investigation and this reinforces suspicions of both Georgian and international society,” the PM stated.

Member of the parliamentary minority, Pavle Kublashvili, states that the ex-president’s decision is absolutely “logical.” According to him, the Prosecuor’s Office is being ruled by the former “criminal” Prosecutor Otal Partskhaladze, and decisions are made out of the office.

Coalition representative, Tina Khidasheli, says that Saakahsvili “will have to answer” to all questions anyway.

“I advise Saakashvili to respect Georgian law once in his life. If he rejects this, it will not be a profitable path for him,” Khidasheli said.

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) states that everyone is equal before the law and criminal justice does not envisage any immunity for former senior state officials. On the way to establishing the rule of law, exceptions should be eliminated from politics as well. The Prosecutor’s Office has to investigate the alleged offences of present and former high officials and to bring individuals to justice. The organization states that it is decisive that the actions implemented by law enforcement representatives were in line with legislative requirement, without the “slightest doubt” about bias.

Head of GYLA Kakha Kozhoridze explains that Saakashvili’s demand of online testimony at trial would not be justified.

“The Prosecutor’s Office needs the testimony to investgate cases. The office should complete the investigation before sending the cases to court. The ex-President states that he would answer the questions during the trial and that is unjustified,” Kozhoridze said.